Investigate from within

Dili Travel Blog

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Gamblers
Ahhhh, 9 glorious days off!! 

I started them as I have all my time off spent in Dili, by having breakfast up in the Esplanada cafe and staying there to work on my laptop.  I had plenty to catch up on and I have big plans for the week so I knew I had to square things away.

A couple of days ago a woman was introduced to us by the NZ embassy staff.  Kylie left London 25th April last year and has traveled alone (except for her bicycle) from there around the globe heading home to Christchurch.  She has traveled through 19 countries and of course has plenty of stories that come from such an epic adventure.  She knew Timor Leste was full of kiwi soldiers and cops so decided to swing up this way from Indonesia, to join us for the ANZAC ceremony on the 25th -Sunday.
Entry fee being paid
  Kylie and I have been chatting about travel in the couple of days she's been here so this morning we made plans to spend the afternoon checking out a few of the Dili sights.

My plan for this time off is to hire a motor cycle and immerse myself in the traffic that I have spent so much of the past year trying to manage,  After lunch I walked down to Tiger fuel, did the deal and rode a brand new honda back to the Esplanada.  US$100 for 5 days and a helmet that fits like a bucket on my head.

At the hotel I changed into my bathers, grabbed my snorkel, maskand Kylie and we headed out to Dili rock, where the snorkeling is meant to be very nice and there are no unfriendly crocodiles to eat you.  (see review)

We spent about an hour in the water.
Cock teasing
  Kylie was having trouble with her snorkel so we didn't stay longer but we aslo had other things to see.  Next was the Pope Statue (JPII) just across the road.  I'd been to this before (check it out a couple of chapters back -January or February) but it's a high spot that affords a pleasant view over the industrial area of Dili and out to the green-blue waters of the Straights of Wettar.

At the top I pointed out the newly excavated area down below us where the Chinese are doing a resort development, including a golf course.  No work is going on at the moment because a few weeks ago they unearthed 9 bodies, men women and children, bound and buried in a shallow grave.  The Australian war crime investigators are looking into it as the locals report this area as one of the main grave sights during the 25 year Indonesian occupation and they believe there will be 350-500 buried around here.
Facing off


From here I took Kylie to another religious monument on the edges of the city.  The Timorese are 98% Catholic so they have statues and religious monuments everywhere.  This one is another I have visited previous and is dedicated to The Virgin Mary.  The best thing about this place is the trip to it.  Little lanes cut through a very poor part of the city, families play beside the road wearing short and bare feet.  The old folk sit quietly under the porch in from of the corregated iron or bamboo shacks and they all smile and wave as the "mallai" ride slowly past on their shiny new honda.  Timorese people are so gracious and friendly, I love that about this country.  These people really couldn't do enough for their guests.

After winding up the steep road, dodging a few goats and some teens in search of some alone time we stopped for a short time at the monument before rolling back down the hill and heading to Banana Road to see what was happening there.
Tangled in battle


What we found was a huge cockfight.  This is the main pastime of men at the end of the workday.  The gambling is illegal but I have heard a winner can go home with $1000 and enough dead rooster to feed all 10-20 of his family for a couple of nights.  I hadn't stopped to see one in the time I've been here but they have always been obvious because of the huge gatherings of men, many of whom lovingly cradel their champion under their arm.

As we made our way from the road were exchanged pleasantries with youngsters trying out their english.  The stadium was packed with about 100 men focused on the drama in the ring.  Cheers rose from the crowd occasionally but as we looked at the solid wall of backs I wasn't sure we'd get to see much.
Handler to the rescue
  Of course many of the spectators were delighted to see us and as Kylie was the only woman in the crowd that made her doubly special.  As we skirted the crowd we were offered space to the railing where we might see the action.

I have to admit it was everything I thought it would be, except that it didn't end in death every time.  Each fight began with an entry fee being paid by the men who would then face off for a bit of a cock tease.  Once arousal was assured, weapons were drawn.  This meant a sheath was actually removed from a small razor blade (about 2 inches) tied to one of the cock's legs.  Handlers leapt away from the angry, knife wielding cocks and with neck feathers puffed the two birds flung themselves at each other like a couple of ninjas.
Dead bird bin


Each fight lasted about 2-3 minutes before a win was awarded.  The one whole fight I saw ended when the dark bird stopped fighting and ran off like a chicken.  Both cocks had suffered some pretty nasty chest wounds and I was surprised neither was killed as their blood squirted out onto the hard-packed dirt of the ring.  Before the chicken was killed by the white (and red) rooster their handlers had scooped them up, cleaned off the razors and replaced the little cardboard sheath. 
  I doubt the champion would be fighting again tonight but I'm sure after a period of healing hed be back in the cock ring earning another fistful of cash for his proud owner.

After that I took Kylie to another well known site of death, Santa Cruz Cemetary.
War wounds
  The masacre that was carried out by the Indonesians of the Timorese involved in a peaceful march to the cemetary was the event that awoke the world to the plight of the Timorese.  While the demonstrators were inside the cemetary walls the occupying army locked the gates and started shooting everyone inside.  There was an international journolist inside filming at the time.  He managed to bury his tape and return several days later to secure it.  Finally the governments of those countries that had been ignoring the Indonesian atrocities had to face the facts.  I've given a bit of the history of the 25 year occupation after visiting Chega last year but for those that haven't read anything about what happend between 1974-1999, it is believed around 200 000 (or 1/3 of the population) were killed by the Indonesian Army or those Timorese associated with the Fretilin political party.


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Gamblers
Gamblers
Entry fee being paid
Entry fee being paid
Cock teasing
Cock teasing
Facing off
Facing off
Tangled in battle
Tangled in battle
Handler to the rescue
Handler to the rescue
Dead bird bin
Dead bird bin
War wounds
War wounds
Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
Grave artisans
Grave artisans
Not everyone has a fancy grave
Not everyone has a fancy grave
Dili General Tips & Advice review
Motorcycle Hire
Tiger fuel is one of the largest petrol stations on Comoroa Road in Dili. As well as serving great pizza and other Australian (& NZ) favourites when … read entire review
Dili Sights & Attractions review
Best snorkeling near Dili
The Western entrance to Dili is marked by a fancy gateway and a cutting in a land formation when the road was built. What's left of the formation is … read entire review
Dili
photo by: jose28